The San Francisco 49ers invested a fifth round pick in tight end George Kittle, and by the end of the offseason workout program, he found himself getting first team reps at tight end. The team rotated players regularly at tight end and wide receiver during OTAs and minicamp, so we can’t take this as a certainty he’ll be a starter. However, given the turnover at the skill positions, he has a good chance of being an impact player right out of the gate.
General manager John Lynch made an appearance on KNBR on Tuesday, and had a chance to discuss some of the newcomers that have stood out to him. The first person he cited was Kittle. He likes his sudden movement and ability to catch the ball. He specifically said Kittle could provide a real advantage in one-on-one matchups down in the red zone.
“I think one that’s been talked about a lot out there — and like you said, you don’t want to overreact to OTAs — George Kittle a guy we got in the fifth-round is a guy who really flashed. He’s got some suddenness to him in his movements. He catches the ball extremely well. One of things we knew is that we weren’t gonna be able to build this to the way we want it in one year. So I think George gives us something we don’t have in a playmaker, like down near the red zone, where you’ve got a one-on-one matchup. We’re confident we’re going to move the ball because Kyle knows how to put together an offense. And we’ve got guys who fit into what he wants to do. The speed the separators, all that.
“But you know, one thing you have to be able to do, when you’re down near the red zone and everything tightens up, do you have guys that can just man-on-man beat the guy in front of them? We were concerned we didn’t have that and were going to have to live with that for a year. We feel like George Kittle maybe gives us something where he is that guy, who in a one-on-one situation you can flex him out, you can put him in the middle of the field, and he can kind of impose his will and just out-athlete people. So, that has been extremely positive. We thought that coming in, but then he probably exceeded our expectations.”
KNBR’s Kevin Jones discussed Lynch’s comments, and he made a comparison with former Washington tight end Chris Cooley. He talked about how Kittle is, “slippery once he has the ball in his hands, and quick enough to beat safeties in the middle of the field.” Jones’ opinion is of note as he spent some time working for Washington during Cooley’s time with the team.
The 49ers offense remains a work in progress, but there are some intriguing weapons. Pierre Garçon and Kyle Juszczyk seem to be the safe options to project as playmakers in this offense, but players like Kittle and Marquise Goodwin could be the fun ones to track when the regular season gets going.